SALEM, Ore. — Rising high school seniors Esha Puri, Pranav Ramesh, and Luke Clifton are tiptoeing into a new school year, cautious after the way last year ended.
“It just happened really, really quickly, but I’m glad that we’re able to connect with people now. It was super hard to do that on the last day,” Clifton said.
The trio of teens met in middle school and now attend South Salem High School. When remote education became the norm in the spring, it was a definite learning curve.
“The three of us were sort of struggling with school and struggling with adapting to the new platform of online learning, that there might be other kids that need help,” Clifton said.
As they got familiar with the online format, school events that they were used to, began to get canceled, which led to a lot more free time. So they decided the next step was to put themselves in the shoes of younger students and walk them through their assignments.
“What we did was, first we created the website so we’d have a platform to redirect students and volunteers,” Puri said. “We contacted all the principals in the school districts K -12, and we told them what we were doing so they sent their students to us.”
It’s called Connect Oregon Students and it started as a free online tutoring and peer-support service for students in Salem-Keizer schools. In the last week, they’ve gone state-wide.
“This service is open to everybody so it doesn’t matter what school district you’re in, where you’re at in Oregon,” said Clifton.
“For elementary students, we don’t have to teach them a super hard subject like algebra or something. If their parents want we can just go through some reading strategies,” Puri added.
Right now, they have about 75 kids enrolled with 15 volunteer tutors on board, and they could always use more.
“Our target for that group would be upperclassmen juniors and seniors. Students that feel comfortable with kids who need help,” Clifton said.
These three have some pretty big dreams after graduation, but right now their goal is to make sure younger students have the tools to chase theirs.
“And it’s totally okay if you’re having trouble, and that’s why we’re here to help you,” Ramesh said.
“Make sure to have some fun too with this. Some of these kids don’t have recess and don’t have time to hang out with friends,” Clifton said. “So just make sure you’re carving out some time to enjoy life as much as possible right now.”